Illinois has a strong economy and is one of the lower-cost-of-living states in the US. But, with rising electric costs and the lack of 4WD options currently, does it make sense to own an electric vehicle in the state? Here’s what you need to know about owning an EV in Illinois.
Illinois Charging Infrastructure
Illinois is working hard to not only entice private consumers to invest in electric cars but also work on its own infrastructure to encourage businesses to do the same. Because of this, the Federal Highway Administration approved the Illinois Electric Vehicle Deployment Plan on September 27, 2022, helping them secure $148 million in funding for the next 5 years — which will mainly focus on interstate Direct Current Fast Charging, also known as DCFS. This means that Illinois will add charging stations every 50 miles or upgrade existing ones. Each of the four combined charging system ports on these DCFS stations must be able to draw 150 kWh, for a total of 600 kWh.
How Many Charging Stations Does Illinois Have?
Even without the funding that the state received in 2022, it already has over 2,500 stations, far outpacing many other midwestern and northern states. Plus, this will just increase over the next five years. Of course, the most populated cities are Chicago, Jacksonville, and Springfield, but charging stations are popping up across the state.
Types of Charging Stations
There are many different types of charging stations, and it’s important to know which one you’ll need to use if you purchase an EV and choose to charge it publicly. Let’s talk about the types of plugs and chargers you’ll come across.
Home Charging Stations
Before we get into public stations, let’s talk about how you would charge your vehicle at home. First, your manufacturer would tell you what charging station you need to use at home. Many of these chargers will fall into two categories — level 1, level 2, or level 3.
Level 1 chargers are often the cheapest, but tend to charge incredibly slowly. For example, it would take around 35 hours to charge a Nissan Leaf in full, which has a 40-62 kWh lithium-ion battery.
A level 2 charger, on the other hand, works similarly to a “fast phone charger”, and can usually charge a vehicle to full in less than 8 hours, which is perfect for those who charge their cars overnight. But these chargers also cost significantly more, usually close to, or over, $1,000.
Level 3 chargers are the fastest and are usually referred to as superchargers. These are the most expensive out of the three options, and draw quite a bit of power, so keep that in mind. But, they can also charge a car in as little as 30 minutes.
Free stations are typically found in business areas like grocery stores, libraries, or even public city parking lots. But of course, they come with a caveat. These stations usually use the cheapest chargers, often level 1, and will only give you a few miles per hour. But, if you don’t want to spend money on public charging, these are great options to get a little juice in your EV. Plus, several public charging stations at stores or parking lots may be free to use for the duration of your visit.
Fast chargers, also known as DC chargers, are also available in Illinois. DC stands for “direct current,” the form of electricity used by batteries. Alternating current, or “AC,” is what Level 2 charging stations use and is what you would find in a standard home socket. If using a fast charger, your vehicle has an onboard charger that transforms AC electricity into DC for the battery, thus charging it faster.
CHAdeMO is a common EV connector type at rapid charging stations. It can reach charging levels of 400kW and can charge your car from 20% to 80% in as little as an hour.
Direct current (DC) is used by CHAdeMO connectors to charge the vehicle’s battery and perform the conversion from alternating current (AC) at the charging point. The vehicle will also convert to DC if you opt to use a regular AC household charger to power it. In the US, the Nissan LEAF and the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV are currently the only cars using the CHAdeMO plugs.
Using shared communications pins, CCS charging sockets integrate the inlets for both AC and DC. But it doesn’t require a connector as CHAdeMO plugs do. The CCS connector provides two additional DC power lines that can operate at greater voltages than the normal connector while utilizing some connections from the Type 2 interface. This helps charge an EV faster.
Except for Tesla, which has its own plug, all-electric vehicles in North America that require Level 2 charging utilize the J1772 plug. For use in the rain and other weather conditions, the connector offers a variety of requirements for preventing shock too, a great benefit when charging in public and not having the comfort of home.
Where Are the Charging Stations Located?
It’s no surprise that over half of the charging stations in Illinois are in Chicago. But you can also find them in Jacksonville, Springfield, Bloomington, Carbondale, Centralia, Effingham, Lincoln, Pontiac, Quincy, Rockford, and Sterling, just to name a few.
Cost of Owning an EV in Illinois
We’ll get into how you can take advantage of rebates in our next section, but first, let’s talk about what an EV will cost you.
Kia Niro EV
The newer Kia Niro has a 253-mile driving range, a 64.8 kWh 358 V lithium-ion, and can go 0-60 mph in 6.5 seconds!
You can charge the Niro EV from 10% to 80% in around 45 minutes with a peak DC fast-charging rate of 85 kW. For a tiny EV, this is a bit above average. The battery itself also has a warranty of 10 years or 100,000 miles. All of this for less than $40,000 for a brand-new car!
Home charging typically costs $.17 per kWh in the state of Illinois, which is a bit steep. But even still, a full charge will only cost you about $11.01 at home. Public charging is a different story unless you find a free charger. It will be around $.36 per kWh for public charging, or $23.33 for a full “tank.”
Hyundai Ioniq 5
The Hyundai Ioniq 5 shines as an SUV with quick charging and a respectable range. With a range of 303 miles, the large-range, single-motor, rear-drive model is one of the most powerful EVs available today for less than $60,000. Although the base model (offering 210 miles on a single charge) is around $48,000.
Both have 350-kW DC fast-charging capacity, which allows charging speeds comparable to much pricier EVs, like Teslas. This means the larger battery can be recharged from 10 to 80 percent in around 18 minutes. Whichever model you choose, the car’s 58 to 77.4 kWh 523-697 V lithium polymer battery is covered for 10 years or 100,000 miles.
With home charging at $.17 and public charging around $.32 per kWh, you’ll spend anywhere between $9.86 and $24.77.
Starting at $41,000, the Volkswagen ID.4 isn’t the cheapest option on our list, but it has a decent 62-82 kWh 400 V lithium-ion battery and a higher mileage range. You’ll get anywhere from 208 miles for the standard trim to 275 miles with the premium option. Fortunately, the ID.4 also has a built-in DC fast charger, so charging up at home or in public charging stations is quick and simple. Also, even though it’s a smaller SUV, it has a maximum towing capacity of about 2700 pounds.
The Volkswagen has a decent warranty, with the battery components covered for 8 years or 100,000 miles, and complimentary maintenance is for 2 years or 20,000 miles.
Home charging will cost you about $.17 per kWh and public charging around $.33 per kWh. So on average, your cost will be $10.54 and $27.06.
Tesla Model 3
The Tesla Model 3 has the longest drive range on this list — a whopping 358 miles. Plus, it charges on a 32-amp, 240-volt connector, taking about 12 hours. You can also charge it at Tesla supercharger locations, taking it only 1 hour or less to fully charge.
There are two battery options — the 60 kWh battery and the 75-kWh with dual motors battery. These range from $43,990 to $53,990, so not the most affordable, but not a bad deal if you need a car for long driving ranges.
Charging your Tesla at home will run you about $.17 per kWh, or around $10.20 for a full charge on the smaller battery. Public charging is more costly at around $.38 per kWh, or up to $28.50. However, this is still cheaper than a tank of gas in the state of Illinois!
Illinois Electric Vehicle Incentives
Along with saving on gas and maintenance when purchasing an EV, Illinois residents can qualify for many different rebates and incentives. First, you can qualify for up to $4,000 in rebates when purchasing a qualifying EV via the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA). Not only that, but motorcycle EVs also count, with a maximum rebate of $1,500!
You can also get a rebate for installing and maintaining a level 2 charger or higher, with up to 80% of the eligible project costs being up for payback.
Last but not least, Battery Electric Vehicles (aka BEVs) are exempt from state motor vehicle emissions inspections. However, EV owners will still need to BEV owners pay an annual fee of $100 in addition to standard registration fees for Illinois’s road fund.
Owning an EV in Illinois Wrap Up
Overall, Illinois offers quite a few incentives and charging stations to entice more people in owning an electric vehicle, and it seems to be working. In 2022 alone, more than 35,000 people registered an electric vehicle, one of the highest in the country! So if you’re thinking about taking the dive into owning an EV, you wouldn’t be alone.